Lessons Learned from Princess Diana – Lesson #9

Lesson #9: Embrace Who You Are

Princess Diana was a cross between Oprah Winfrey, JK Rowling, Audrey Hepburn, and Mother Theresa. Her charismatic yet shy and soft-spoken demeanor displayed an introverted personality that magically transformed when in the limelight. Her humble, compassionate, and deep caring for the disadvantaged undoubtedly earned her a sainthood-like status. Her global presence captured her individuality, leading her to become the People’s Princess.

Diana entered the royal family as a timid and sensitive young woman and left with a strong sense of selfhood. Along the way, she expressed her individuality by sharing topics of conversation that were once taboo and then became commonplace, such as mental health, HIV/Aids, and banning landmines. Her authenticity made her all the more loveable.

Reflecting on my youth, I remember struggling with living up to high religious expectations. I couldn’t reach the bar. It was too high. Instead, I marched to a different drum. The turning point for me was my first work performance review. I finally felt seen and heard. It was a great feeling! For the first time, I felt valued and appreciated for who I was and what I could do. It gave me the confidence to be myself and pursue my passions.

However, life was not easy. After getting married and starting a family, I faced challenges and disappointments. Slowly the unrealistic expectations of a “happily ever after” and not hitting the bar eroded my self-esteem. Like waves pounding rocks into pebbles and pebbles into the sand, I, like Diana, felt insecure as my self-confidence withered away.

I turned to God and surrendered. White flag and all. My life needed to be nurtured and nourished like a garden of herbs and spices to combat the erosion it was facing. After my failed marriage, I met my life partner, and we learned to tend the garden in tandem. Together is better when two people are in sync and not in a tug-of-war.

Like Princess Diana, I learned that embracing who you are is the key to happiness. It’s important to be true to yourself and not try to live up to unrealistic expectations. By being authentic and genuine, we can inspire others to so too. Diana’s legacy continues to inspire people around the world. We can leave our own legacy by being a blessing to others by being kind, compassionate, and empathetic. By sharing our experiences and being vulnerable, we can encourage and support others who may be going through similar struggles. Doing so can create a ripple effect of positivity that can change the world, one person at a time.

Lessons Learned from Princess Diana – Lesson #8

Lesson #8: Be Kind

Image Credit: David Gray / Reuters found in the Public Domain of Images

Princess Diana was known for her kind heart and generous spirit. What small acts of kindness did Princess Diana perform? She may have been the first royal person to touch someone without gloves publicly and was the first to touch someone with HIV/AIDS. Her willingness to see eye-to-eye with her public was a gesture of warmth and kindness as the Princess frequently stooped down on her walkabouts, especially to her young fans.

To instill kindness in her sons, Princess Diana often took them to homeless shelters, hospitals, and orphanages to expose them to all sides of humanity. She did this to inspire them to help others as they matured into adulthood. Diana was indeed a “People’s Princess.”

Reflecting on kindness and my childhood, I saw random acts of kindness from my dad. Whenever he saw a friend or a neighbor walking, he would offer them a ride. My mom showed kindness when she picked up the phone from a friend in need. She would listen and provide encouragement. I often heard her do this as she would say, “A ha and hmm.”

In my first marriage, I tried to exhibit kindness, and I did so for many years. Until I broke. I could no longer be kind-hearted when I felt so downtrodden and disrespected. Children mimicking adult behavior. Poor choice of words. Poor choice of actions. I woke up and realized I had contributed to a situation where I no longer wanted to be a part. I had reached my limit of kindness. Kindness was no longer found in my home, and I could not be the glue anymore.

A kind person apologizes. A kind person tries to discover new ways to approach old wounds. A kind person is supportive. Encouraging. Loving. Life must be filled with kindness, or it no longer supplies the needed oxygen to survive.

Kindness was important for Princess Diana because it gave her a sense of purpose, happiness, and connection with others. It also makes a positive change in so many lives. In Parades, Princess Diana’s Legacy of Kindness, by Roisin Kelly, Ms. Kelly writes this about Princess Diana, “She believed that kindness was the best way to show love and compassion in a world that often suffers from the disease of feeling unloved.” And I believe it too! My life now is ruled by kindness. Kindness is the cornerstone of my marriage. My home. My relationships.

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*Written with the assistance of New Bing AI for research purposes

Lessons Learned from Princess Diana – Lesson #7

Lesson #7: Stand Up for What You Believe In

Princess Diana stood up for what she believed in. She used her voice to challenge the royal system and did things differently. Boy, did Diana do things differently. From breaking from the 1662 tradition of wedding vows, sending her boys to preschool, and wearing black at non-funeral events, she was a rebel in her own right.

Her subtle insistence. Her impish grin. Her brilliant mind. Princess Diana stood up for what she believed in and used her voice to advocate change. Once she realized she had a platform with the public, she wittingly raised awareness of taboo subjects such as HIV/AIDS, mental health, and banning landmines.

Princess Diana stood up for what she believed in by being a hands-on parent to her children. She went to great lengths to provide her children with “normal” kid things such as a Disney vacation, a McDonald’s happy meal, and participating in school events, such as the annual parent’s race, where Diana came in first place in 1988.** She broke royal protocol by being herself – a down-to-earth, fun-loving, jest-for-life person.

Marriage. Parenting. Divorce. Princess Diana stood up for what she believed in and lived a life where she instilled values of honesty, compassion, and kindness. She believed in fairness by fighting for a fair divorce settlement, including shared custody of her children. Diana worked tirelessly to provide a smooth transition for her children to limit the emotional damage divorce does to children. Above all else, she loved her children. She believed in them.

In reflecting on my life, standing up for what I believe in seemed to be a challenge for me. Most likely, stemming from childhood trauma. From that time forward, I felt that I had no voice. It took decades to realize these traumas impacted my relationships far more significantly than I realized then. First marriage. Parenting. Divorce. In my first marriage, I was viewing life through a particular lens. A lens that was colored. Dark. Unfocused. Unable to see the murkiness. Until one day. One day, it all came into focus. It was the day my then-husband did the unspeakable. All in a flash, I saw the truth. And pain.

I was willing to do the hard work, like Princess Diana, of speaking my truth, which enabled me to leave a broken marriage, better myself as a mother, and remarry and become the wife I was meant to be. Standing up for myself has allowed me to be free. Free from harsh words. Free from unkindness. Free from disrespect.

Like Diana, I, too, was a supportive mom to my sons in their growing-up years. I have been and always will be their best cheerleader. Princess Diana inspired millions of people around the world. I have inspired a few here and there too. Diana gradually realized she had a platform to use her voice over time as she gained more confidence as a royal. She also was “just a mom.” She used her voice to speak out against injustice and advocate change. Change in what vows are read at weddings, how we can parent and fulfill career responsibilities at the same time, and why it is necessary to have good mental health.

I am trying to be more like Diana. I speak about estrangement. It is an injustice. I want to bring awareness of how estrangement rips families apart. The other day, a Rabbi called it “psychological murder.” Although it seems harsh, I couldn’t agree more. Knowing your child lives somewhere but not exactly sure where, not having a way to tell whether he reads texts or emails, is like a slow death. Over and over. Each time the phone rings. Each time email is checked. Each time mail is retrieved from the mailbox. Will I ever hear from my son? Parents must be held accountable for alienating themselves, their children, their parents, and extended family members from others including, the other “targeted” parent. The court system must be held accountable for perpetuating broken relationships. Let’s fix it. Together. Together is better.

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  • *https://www.thelist.com/288119/14-times-princess-diana-broke-strict-royal-rules/
  • **https://www.newsweek.com/fact-check-princess-diana-break-royal-protocol-school-moms-race-1738917
  • Written with the assistance of new Bing AI for research purposes.

Lessons Learned from Princess Diana – Lesson #6


Lesson #6: Embrace Vulnerability

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Princess Diana used her public image and royal status to bring humility and honesty to the field of mental health. The life and legacy of Princess Diana embraced the vulnerability of others and, more poignantly herself. In her openness to her personal challenges, she may have unwittingly encouraged us all to confront our demons and seek professional help.

Princess Diana openly spoke about her battles with depression, self-doubt, and postpartum depression. By sharing her experiences, she humanized mental health issues and sparked conversations that were often considered taboo. This applied to her marriage woes as well. Diana had a knack for deeply relating to the public in many ways. After her troubled marriage became public knowledge, she openly discussed her challenges, allowing others struggling to feel seen and heard. She was a trailblazer.

As a teenager and young woman, I dreamed of creating a nurturing and safe space for my children. I imagined a warm and fuzzy place where heart-to-heart talks would be encouraged. I pictured two parents on the same page of the “Parenting Book.” But it didn’t end up that way as my children were growing up. The parents who I grew up with, that made me feel safe and loved and taught me how to be expressive by holding hands and kissing, were not the parents my children had. And yes, this still haunts me every now and again.

Reflecting on my journey of vulnerability as a parent, “I need to put on the oxygen mask first,” thinking comes to mind. I saw the benefit of counseling and sought it several times during and after my first marriage and a few times before my second marriage. I realized that two-way communication was the secret sauce in healthy relationships.

Good mental health requires people to be open and honest with themselves, their partners, and their children. Counseling requires hard introspective work, and many are just not ready to make that commitment. Often more time is needed to be ready for counseling. Or a fixed mindset prevents them from seeing the benefits of therapy or any help or assistance in general. It takes courage to acknowledge and express our true selves. Princess Diana showed the world that vulnerability is not a sign of weakness but of strength that fosters connection, empathy, and understanding. All of which necessitate some form of communication.

A smile.
A warm touch.
A glance.
A laugh.
A text.
An email.
A phone call.

I acknowledge moments of self-doubt, uncertainty, and the poor navigating of the often-hard road that parenting requires. Yet, I did something right because my children turned out to be okay. Both graduated from top-notch universities. Both are independent. Both are genuinely kind people if you dig deep enough. I’m sure we could agree that healthy relationships are vital in today’s ever-changing world. Even tricky words, we occasionally need to hear, are worth the effort.

Lessons Learned from Princess Diana – Lesson #5

Lesson #5: Be Compassionate

Princess Diana showed compassion in her daily living. She was compassionate toward herself, her family, and the global world. She empathized with those who struggled. Her warm nature bubbled out of her. Princess Diana had a particular type of charisma that was soft and infusive. It slowly dripped and left a trail where ever she went. From her impish grin to her sensitive, loving eyes, she brought authenticity to the monarchy like none other.

Photo Credit: Tim Graham/Getty Images in the Public Domain

One of Princess Diana’s most memorable moments of compassion was when she began her campaign for those suffering from AIDS. She publicly touched people with the disease early on, maybe even before anyone else. She shook hands and hugged the vulnerable. Now, we can look back and say that AIDS wasn’t contractable through touch. But then. No. The disease was new. There was misinformation everywhere. Very similar to when Covid hit in early 2020. There was speculation and a frenzy. Yet, Princess Diana believed that people who had AIDS were still people. Human. And they needed to be loved.

Princess Diana instilled her compassionate nature in her children. She took every opportunity to expose them to the real world. She did not want them to live sheltered lives. Princess Di wanted to teach her children about love. Compassion. Those less fortunate.

Reflecting on my more active mothering years, I, like Princess Diana, tried to instill compassion in my children. I once brought my son to an inner-city church to serve Thanksgiving Dinner to the homeless. I wanted my children to know that there were those less fortunate. I wanted them to appreciate what they had.

As a parent, I tried to infuse love and warmth into our home. It was challenging because I felt the friction of a partner who seemed to undermine every move I made. The more I wanted something, the more my partner fought against it. It was like an oil and vinegar thing. I know now that we were both working through childhood trauma. Whether he would admit that now is anyone’s guess.

Compassion and empathy are traits that can be taught by action. The world will improve if we commit ourselves to be less judgmental, more loving, and speaking kinder words. Princess Diana taught the world about compassion. A lesson undoubtedly worth learning.

Visit http://www.iandthoureflections.com for more lessons learned.

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New Book Release on Estrangement

Reflections, Poems, & Prayers on ESTRANGEMENT by Nadia Crane has recently been released. This book describes the 8 Stages of Estrangement and more. The author does a great job of simplifying the painful process of estrangement. Ms. Crane offers inspirational reflections, prayers, and poems after the reader becomes intimately personal with the topic. She then goes on to provide a crash course in it with, Estrangement 101.

This book outlines the 8 Stages of Estrangement, as Elizabeth Kubler-Ross describes the grief process related to death in her well-known 5 Stages of Grief. Grief and estrangement overlap in three of the five stages of grief. They are denial, anger, and acceptance. In Ms. Crane’s analysis, her 8 stages add another layer of acceptance, and includes rejection, shame and blame, fear, and healing.

Let’s bring more awareness of this ever-growing epidemic of broken relationships to the masses. If you know a parent who has been shunned, abandoned, blocked or has had no contact with their child, please bring this resource to their attention. If you know someone who is not speaking to their parent for other than abusive, addictive, or other harmful behaviors, please encourage them to reach out to their parent. A parent and child can reconnect with deep compassion, respect, and understanding. Order today and take the first step toward a deeper understanding of this exploding topic.

Wishing families healthy connections!

For more information visit: http://www.iandthoureflections.com

I and Thou: A Tribute to Mothers

A Vessel of Love

You are a mother, a giver of life,
and a vessel of love
.

You are a mother, a source of strength,
and a spiritual rock.

You are a mother, a teacher,
and a light on a path.

You are a mother, a woman who inspires, uplifts,
and treasures relationships.

You are a mother, firmly rooted,
imparting wisdom to those who seek it.

You are a mother, an anchor, steadfast,
and unshakable.

You are a mother, who loves unconditionally,
no matter the circumstances.

You are a mother, a compassionate, kind,
and daughter of the Almighty.

You are a mother, a hopeful, inspirational,
and uplifting person.

You are a mother, a mother to many,
and a legacy to follow.

You are a mother, a precious creation,
to be celebrated today and every day.

Image Credit: Mother & Son
Painting Valley dot com

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY

Career or Calling?

Daily writing prompt
What is your career plan?

I spent most of my professional career as a Career Counselor. I managed a career center for a private engineering school in the Northeast, and then a decade and a half later built a career center for a small liberal arts college in the middle of the United States. In between, I raised two boys and provided consulting services to several small to medium-sized businesses in the healthcare, tourism, communications, and manufacturing industries.

Sure, I can go on and on about career assessment tools, finding and leaning into your strengths, and preparing for a job search. Yet, many of us lose sight of our calling. We have to ask ourselves, what has God called us to do? Praying will help. Taking career assessments will help. Identifying your top five strengths will help. Pray again. Ask God to show you a path. Don’t worry if you don’t hear anything. It will be revealed in God’s timing.

While consulting, I had the opportunity to serve on the Advisory Board of a Marketing Center of an academic institution. The experience pulled strings in my heart to want to return to academia. So, I started applying for jobs in the nearby area. I wasn’t getting any bites. I prayed. I said to God – “I surrender my career to you. I will go where you lead.” I then expanded the job search to the entire country and received a job offer in Arkansas. There, I had the opportunity to teach at the college level, a dream I had that only God knew.

I hope you will allow God to fulfill your dreams!

Lessons Learned from Princess Diana – Lesson #4

Lesson #4: Advocate for Children

Source Image: Pinterest and in the Public Domain

Princess Diana was a dedicated advocate for children. Whether at a children’s hospital, on a field of land mines, or on a walkabout, her passion was seen on her face in many photographs where she often placed a child on her lap. Princess Diana believed every child deserved a safe and happy childhood after her not-so-happy childhood, experiencing her parent’s divorce at seven. The abandonment she felt led her to deeply empathize with children who experienced trauma. Whether it was trauma from homelessness, Aids, or landmines.

As a mother, Princess Diana was hands-on. Since she knew first-hand what divorce does to a child (her), she went to great lengths to make her children feel loved and safe through her divorce from Prince Charles. She effortlessly tried to expose William and Harry to “normal” kids’ stuff, such as public schools, and wearing “commoner” clothes like jeans and t-shirts. How did the Princess do that? Spending quality time with them doing fun things such as going to amusement parks, taking vacations, and enjoying a “Happy Meal” together. It was reported on Elle.com, “She also encouraged her children to express their emotions and be open about their feelings.”

Reflecting on my advocating for children, I leaned into another direction toward education. Most of my career has been teaching or coaching students at all levels. I empathized with the underdog. The child who didn’t have a parent read books to them. Or the teenager who didn’t know how to apply to college. Or the college student who was discerning their calling in life.

As far as my mothering skills, like Princess Diana, I, too, wanted my children to have a “normal” life filled with love, security, and hope for the future. I spent endless hours planning birthday parties, shopping for the perfect selections to place into goodie bags and rejuvenating my creativity of appropriate party activities based on the party theme. That was how I loved my kids. I wonder what they remember or whether or not they cared if a lady was singing with a guitar, the bouncy house was big enough, or digging and finding dinosaur fossils in the sandbox.

The cliche of “I did the best I could” does not fit here. It seems old. Ragged. Better questions would be:

“Did I really do my best?”

“Did I do the parties for my kids?”

“Or did I do them for myself?”

“Was I subconsciously filling an unmet need?”

These are good questions to ponder this Mother’s Day.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Written with the assistance of New Bing AI

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Lessons Learned from Princess Diana – Lesson #3

Lesson #3: Lead by Example

Image Credit: Public Domain / Source Unknown

Princess Diana believed that actions speak louder than words and led by example in her interactions with her children. She taught them kindness, compassion, and empathy through her own actions. How did the Princess do that? By bringing them along with her as she performed her royal duties. So, in 1993, Prince William, then 9 months, accompanied his parents on their trip to Australia and New Zealand. This action set a precedent; since then, Prince William and Prince Harry have had their own children on business trips. Quite a bit different from the mothering of Queen Elizabeth.

In the recent Forbes article, by Maura Thomas, What Does Work-Life Balance Even Mean? “To some, work-life balance means the convenience of managing a personal life during the workday without the hassle of getting permission or explaining our activities to others. Another common definition of work-life balance is equal time or priority to personal and professional activities.'” Whichever way you look at the work-life balance issue, Princess Diana was a true trailblazer in this regard. Years later, the monarchy was finally endorsing the concept of work-life balance.

Reflecting on my mothering skills and leading by example, I think of the early days of my professional career and as a young mother. I worked in academia, and my job required me to be there for extra hours to entertain recruiters searching for new hires. Early on, I brought my son to work occasionally. I also worked at home one or two days per week. My direct report understood the importance of work-life balance. And I was grateful for his flexibility at a time when remote working was rare. In life, we have to balance work and our family, especially in jobs where time is demanded.

My other lead-by-example was in spirituality, thanks to my dad. Growing up, my dad was a big proponent of “going to church.” Sundays were the week’s highlight for us as a family, although my dad would sing in the choir, and I would sit in church with my mother. I think for my dad, it was the fact that his family went to church together. We arrived together, and we left together. I also think he was trying to be obedient to God. Train your child up in the Lord.

I saw it much more as a spiritual thing for me and my kids. Not so much as an obedience to God thing. It was vital for me to expose my children to faith. A religion where God created the universe. God is love. And God can bring comfort to you when you need it. My lead by example was my unwavering faith. Faith in God. Faith in marriage. Faith in myself. Faith in my children.